#Scrapthebill, PeoplesAssembly Manchester, Climate change and Health with Spanish walkers, stalls and more:
Gilda Peterson on behalf of NacSCILS – National Care Support and Independent Living Service
Tax hike is no substitute for real care. I see the Yorkshire Evening Post has picked up the Government’s branding of the social care tax hike. Sadly there is little plan for social care. Only 1/7th of the £36bn to be raised in the next three years is earmarked for social care and that focuses on reducing costs for home owners by capping the costs of personal care, not accommodation at £86,000. The government ducked taxing wealth, rental income and property, choosing to increase National Insurance which hits the low waged the hardest.
It offers nothing to stem a rising tide of 120,000 vacancies and retain undervalued and underpaid care and support staff paid a miserly £8.50 an hour for emotionally demanding work. There is nothing for the 1.5 million older people whom Age UK reckons can’t get any support or 5.4 million unpaid carers; and nothing to remedy shrinking services and rising charges on disabled people.
We desperately need a radical overhaul of social care to provide security, choice and dignity for all.
Keep Our NHS Public is campaigning with the National Pensioners Convention, disabled peoples’ organisations and others for a National Care Support and Independent Living Service. We want publicly funded, not for profit services that are free at the point at the point of use, locally designed and delivered with service users, along with action to demolish barriers to access and build inclusive communities.
The care sector is often portrayed as a drain on the economy. Yet more than 1.5 million staff on decent wages and well-supported informal carers would boost national income through taxes and spending, whilst people with impairments of all ages be enabled rather than disabled from playing a full part in society.
If ever there was a time for boldness of vision which Bevan had when he set up the NHS in 1948, this is it
Leeds councillors are right to look on the Health and Care Bill with concern. It will disrupt the NHS for the next two years while it is struggling with huge pressures from covid, staff shortages and work backlog. The workforce crisis and the massive problem of social care are not addressed, and it brings no extra funds to help trusts reopen closed beds.
Not one more nurse will be recruited or one extra patient treated, and neither does it bring any genuine integration of NHS and social care. It will, however, divert time and effort away from patients to another top down reorganisation while making the service even less accountable to local communities.
The Secretary of State will be given 138 new powers; vagueness and repeated reference to ‘flexibility’ leaves plenty of room for reduction in services. Opportunity is created for the private sector to step into positions of influence. The Bill is not about reversing privatisation, and repeal of section 75 of the 2012 Act (requiring competitive tendering) will not stop contracting out.
The 42 Integrated Care Systems have populations up to 3.2 million, chairs will be appointed by NHS England and signed off by the Secretary of State, whose agreement will be needed to replace them. The chairs are able to appoint other members of ICS boards and there is no bar on private companies taking seats. The private hospitals have just been given a £10bn contract to treat funded NHS patients – the biggest ever privatisation of clinical services.
There will be some who choose to believe that a government that has handed out billions in covid contracts to inept and incompetent PPE suppliers and test and trace contractors headed by cronies and donors really wants to limit privatisation and integrate services. I am not one of them.
Plans to make Huddersfield Royal Infirmary into a smaller, planned care hospital and Calderdale Royal Infirmary into an urgent care hospital are edging forward with some buildings being emptied. So far local campaigners and Kirklees and Calderdale Scrutiny Committee have been unable to obtain any evidence that the community services are both in place and taking pressure off hospital beds- which is one of three preconditions for the re-configuration set by the Secretary of State.
Agreed that demanding evidence that Community care / care closer to home is making a difference to pressures on hospitals is something we can all take up in our own areas.
Leeds – about 60 turned out on 3rd July despite quite heavy rain and there was quite good coverage in the Yorkshire Evening Post. They also held a private v public tug of war over the NHS as suggested by We Own It but did it the week before the day of action on 17.7 to capitalise on people’s availability. They are now planning activities around the NHS Bill and are ready to support action over pay while thinking about more street theatre and getting out to local areas with accessible material on the things that resonate with people eg waiting lists, GP access , rationing etc., which can be linked in with the Health and Care bill.
999 Kirklees and Calderdale had a good tug of war which attracted support from the public and are thinking about doing a piece of theatre as part of the Heptonstall Egg Plays.
South Yorks and Bassetlaw are re-launching their NHS campaign but won’t be looking to affiliate to KONP as they were disappointed not to receive the support from KONP they expected when they were in the front line as a pilot ICS.
Harrogate Helen gave a brief outline of our concerns about the Health and Care Bill at her local Labour Party meeting in July . People were interested and supportive and they are planning to have a speaker and fuller discussion in September.
999 Kirklees and Calderdale have a petition against the Bill and a local Labour MP is going to present it in Parliament in September. They have also have produced an all in one leaflet. They are trying to find ways to relate the Bill to issues that affect the public and have resonance on the ground and to use imaginative ways to get their message across. The Covid quilts are useful as they are eye-catching ad a craft-activist called Helen Corbridge has come up with the idea of getting people to embroider sufficient mens’ handkerchiefs with a message “ Don’t Blow it! Kill the Health and Care bill before it kills us” or suchlike ! They are working on a briefing for MPs which can be presented with the handkerchiefs. Pascale from ‘We Own It ‘is supportive.
999 had a deputation to the Joint West Yorks Scrutiny Board earlier this week who said that criticising the policy wasn’t in their remit, only how it would affect the people they represent. They are also submitting evidence to the Public Bill Committee re the damage that the incipient ICS have done already.
Medact have a meeting on Health for a Green New Deal 27th July. York will have info re activities organised as part of York Environment week in early Seotember
Senior Leeds Councillor, Fiona Venner has spoken about concerns over creeping privatisation in the NHS. Councillor Venner is the council’s executive member responsible for health and was speaking about proposed government legislation.
“In the legislation, there is the option for private sector providers to be on the partnership boards. There isn’t any plan for that to happen in West Yorkshire at the moment, but Virgin Care are on partnership boards in some parts of the country.”
Speaking about the proposed repeal of section 75 of the 2021 health and care bill she said:
“You would think this could be a good thing, but my concern about it is that it shows the lack of trust people have in the Government and procurement. There have been terrible decisions in the last 15 months around contracts to friends for PPE that’s defective.
“The concern around repealing this part of the act is that it will make it easier to award contracts without due process.”
The government is planning NHS legislation in England that will allow for more American-style privatisation
Stop the NHS Corporate Takeover Bill
Dear Editor, I fully agree it is important to recognise the tremendous work done by NHS staff and celebrate 73 years of a public service that strives to care for us all irrespective of ability to pay, however, it goes without saying that claps, the George Cross and lighting up buildings dont pay the bills.
While the deliberations of the Pay Review Body are still in progress, there can be little doubt its recommendations will be in line with government protestations that a significant pay rise is unaffordable. This will leave hundreds and thousands of staff angry and disappointed and will also frustrate the public’s desire to see that sacrifices made during the pandemic are recognised.
Furthermore, it will do nothing to help staff recruitment or retention with many already considering alternative employment. On the third of July, 70 demonstrations were held around the UK by campaigning groups Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, NHS Staff Voices and NHS Workers Say No. These brought together public, staff, and trade unionists around the issues of pay justice, patient safety and an end to privatisation.
Given the battering from covid taken by an already much undermined NHS, this was in many ways a more fitting tribute to staff than illuminations, being a concrete expression of solidarity and support. Actions from government are now needed to invest in the NHS and restore it to its founding principles so that it can once again become a service on which we can depend and of which we can be proud.
It will be extremely disheartening for many Yorkshire patients on waiting lists including those needing treatment for cancer to hear that the surge in Covid-19 has led Leeds Teaching Hospitals to cancel operations. Other hospitals and ambulance services are also under pressure from this third wave of coronavirus, taking place even before we have reached ‘freedom (for unrestrained viral sharing) day’.
We now have around 30,000 new daily infections with a confident prediction from the Health Secretary that he can increase this to 100,000 in the coming weeks. To abandon controls on viral spreading and hand responsibility over to the public is an abject failure of leadership by government. Tried and tested public health measures for infection control such as those advocated by the World Health Organisation need to be in place.
It is astonishing that with a budget of £37bn the privatised test and trace system has been found by the National Audit Office still not to be working in reducing infection. The perverse lifting of restrictions on the 19th July is not justified by the science and risks creating a generation of young people with chronic health problems and disability from long Covid. This is not the trivial matter that ministers seem to believe.
In addition, the poorest in society are four times more likely than the richest to die from Covid-19. Deprived communities are more exposed to infection, more at risk and will bear the brunt of this dangerous experiment. Apart from the unnecessary deaths, misery and suffering of thousands, government strategy may well have the effect of producing vaccine resistant variants with potential to wipe out all the gains made to date. Never has an administration shown itself so unfit to govern and at some point it must be held to account.
Dr Michael Galvin, retired consultant haematologist
Dr John Puntis, retired consultant paediatrician